Archive for October, 1999

San Francisco Examiner: Networks showing their stupidity again

Oct-28-1999
San Francisco Examiner
Networks showing their stupidity again
Tim Goodman

This is the part of the TV season when the luster of everyone thinking life was sweet gets rubbed down to the awful truth: Even in the midst of a great season, shows have to die.

Usually, this period begins much earlier — like the week after most of them debut.

NBC’s “Mike O’Malley” was the first show to get canceled, followed shortly thereafter by CBS’s “Work With Me.” No problem there — most everyone thought they were lousy. Much more difficult — and telling — is when shows with potential get the ax.

When Fox killed Chris Carter’s “Harsh Realm” and “Ryan Caulfield: Year One” Monday, it raised some eyebrows. After all, both shows aired with relatively good reviews — more so for “Harsh Realm” than “Ryan Caulfield,” but both of them were positively received on the whole. The former got a meager three airings and the latter only two. Immediately, Carter suggested that Fox blew it with his show — that the promotion was nonexistent and the support from management was never there.

He’s definitely right on the first count and if he’s right on the second, it almost certainly means that his mystique is over at the network and, barring a miracle, this is indeed the last season of “The X-Files,” the show that put him on the map and has helped define Fox.

No time like now to bring up the old but apt slogan: What have you done for me lately?

This is how the television industry works, though, and even a massive Internet campaign that is most likely right around the corner won’t save “Harsh Realm” or Carter for that matter. Networks are ruthless when they want to be and stupid when they need to be. They become so when it best suits them. For Fox, the stupid part came when it had to play along with Carter on his wonderfully bleak but woefully witnessed second series, “Millennium.”

What could Fox do back then? Tell one of the hottest producers in the business that they were yanking his failure? No chance. Like many networks before it, Fox figured Carter would hit one out of the ballpark next time, and they couldn’t risk him doing it for someone else.

But when “Harsh Realm” reaped some of the lowest ratings Fox has ever had on Fridays (lower than “Millennium” even), that sealed it. The question is this: Has Carter lost his touch, or did Fox bungle “Harsh Realm” from the start and then fail to nurture it?

Network identities, their cultures, rest on the answer you get. Fox has gone from nurturing new shows — mostly because they had no choice — to being a network willing to pull the plug almost immediately. This season, Fox has a new entertainment president in Doug Herzog, who came from MTV and Comedy Central. He didn’t green-light any of Fox’s fall programming so he’s not emotionally invested in them. Carter even told Daily Variety that Herzog wasn’t a fan of “The X-Files.” That’s a bad sign.

The fact is, “Harsh Realm” was confusing. No question about it. But so was “The X-Files” — maybe the most confusing series ever. But it became a hit through patience. And “Ryan Caulfield” at the very least offered a fresh take on the tired and nearly dead cop genre. It was surprisingly good and had potential. Now — gone.

It’s clear that this season Fox’s culture is one of low patience. But perhaps the blame should be shifted off the shows and onto the network itself. Fox eschewed the traditional premiere week concept this season — as it has done much of the past. Instead, knowing that it had baseball, which would preempt some new shows, it chose to roll shows out slower, in dribs and drabs.

So much for that plan. How can a network bungle the most hyped show of the season (“Action”) so that it airs two back-to-back debut episodes and gets beaten unmercifully by a rerun of “Frasier”? That’s as unexplainable as it is inexcusable. The network has also failed to build much of an audience for “Get Real,” an unorthodox series that needed particular attention paid to the promotion, so audiences would grasp what it was trying to do.

Although “Action” will return, the fate of last season’s budding hit, “Family Guy,” is less clear. Both have been pulled from the November sweeps schedule.

The cancellation of “Harsh Realm” and “Ryan Caulfield” could signal that Herzog wants to put his own stamp on the network. But the move is disturbing in that it seems a knee-jerk reaction. And what does Fox have to replace these shows with? There’s a backlog of reality shows, but that’s a direction Herzog said the network was moving away from.

Fox, of course, is not the only network making difficult, sometimes mind-boggling decisions. When ABC presented “Once and Again,” it was clear to most critics (though that’s hardly a good barometer) that it was the best new show the network had. By putting it in the “NYPD Blue” spot, wouldn’t that cause problems down the line if the show was an actual hit?

In essence, ABC said it would deal with that when the time came. The time came and ABC ended up alienating “NYPD Blue” creator Steven Bochco by first suggesting it might move the venerable cop show, then finally pushing its debut back until January.

ABC’s network identity has always been the quick-hook coupled with no brains. It has ruined many a fine show (“My So-Called Life,” “Murder One,” “Relativity,” “Cupid,” “Nothing Sacred,” and many, many more) by putting them in impossible time slots or simply giving up on them.

The network had no idea what to do with “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” despite the fact it fascinated a nation. The show is coming back next month for sweeps, but that initial buzz is gone and the gap has allowed other networks (like Fox, with “Greed”) to rip off the idea and steal its thunder.

Not every move is a blunder, however. Many shows get pulled precisely because they are bad. ABC yanked “Wasteland” but says it will give it another chance (hopefully that’s a typical network lie. Also coming off the schedule, deservedly, are NBC’s “Suddenly Susan” and CBS’s “Love & Money.”).

Most shows die because they deserve to, but in a world where, up until this season, having a plethora of quality was unheard of, killing one great show unnecessarily caused gaping creative holes that were rarely filled.

It bears watching whether networks will have patience or panic. NBC has a gem in “Freaks and Geeks,” which has aired only twice because of baseball and rests in the Saturday night death slot. That’s a dangerous future.

Fox has said it will be patient with “Action” — a show it had to know would appeal to a very limited audience — but we’ll let the network’s own actions speak loudest on that.

We are about to see more cancellations. These things tend to come in droves.

If the networks can muster an equally impressive midseason maybe the damage won’t be so severe. But the fear is that all of the surprising good quality we’ve seen from the fall premieres will be squandered by networks in an all-too-familiar squeeze of their hair triggers.

TV Guide Online Chat: Chris Carter

Oct-28-1999
TV Guide Online Chat: Chris Carter

TVGuide Chat: Welcome, Chris! Thanks so much for coming!

Chris Carter: Hello, “X-Files” fans throughout the world.

Question: Is last season’s season finale the last we are going to be seeing of Agent Spender? (We saw no body.)

Chris Carter: Agent Spender is dearly departed. But his ghost will live on.

Question: On average, how many days does it take for you to write a script for one episode?

Chris Carter: Average is seven to ten days.

Question: What gave you the idea to start the show?

Chris Carter: I was under contract with a gun to my head.

Question: What do you think of the fans? Do you think we’re crazy?

Chris Carter: Not nearly as crazy as the producers.

Question: Is the rumor true about the New Year’s kiss?

Chris Carter: I’m assuming that you mean does it happen. You’ll have to wait for the New Year.

Question: What is your most favorite episode of “The X-Files”?

Chris Carter: I have too many that I am proud of. But I have favorites from each season. The one that was the most personal one to me was the black and white one called “Post Modern Prometheus.”

Question: Hey Chris, we met some time ago, and I didn’t get the chance to ask you, who where your influences growing up? What motivated you to make such an extraordinary series?

Chris Carter: Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Philip K. Dick, Sinclair Lewis, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe and John Cheever. My television inspiration was “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

Question: Do you base your characters on real-life people, or are they solely fictional creations?

Chris Carter: Mulder and Scully are fictional characters, as are most of the characters in “The X-Files.” But occasionally, and not so occasionally, we name characters after our friends and coworkers.

Question: What are your views on the paranormal?

Chris Carter: I’m a skeptic by nature. But, like Mulder, I want to believe.

Question: Do you get recognized often in public?

Chris Carter: More often than I’d like. I’m surprised that anyone recognizes me.

Question: From interviews I’ve seen and read, you seem like a truly sincere, all-around nice guy. Because you are able to come up with great story lines for “The X-Files,” you obviously have a dark side. How do you get in touch with that side? Music, movies, books?

Chris Carter: I turn on my computer.

Question: Are we going to learn more about Mulder and Scully’s personal lives?

Chris Carter: Yes, definitely. This could be the last season, so we want to explore them thoroughly.

Question: How has religion affected the decisions you make about the show? (I think it’s really cool that Scully is Catholic!!)

Chris Carter: Faith is an all-important, ever-present component in the stories we tell. It is Scully’s struggle with her religious faith and her faith in science that provide a good bit of character conflict. It is Mulder’s faith in the unknown, in its unknowableness, that drives his quest.

Question: If/when you get writer’s block, what do you do to get past it? Being a writer myself, it’s tough.

Chris Carter: 20th Century Fox doesn’t allow us to have writer’s block. It’s in our contract. And we are summarily executed upon display of any symptoms.

Question: Can we expect to get answers to a lot of the questions that have been left for us since the first season up until now?

Chris Carter: Yes. Sit back, put your feet up, no clicking, and we will explain it all for you.

Question: If you could choose one “X-Files” episode to watch on Halloween (besides “Home”), which would it be? Keep in mind, I enjoy being spooked.

Chris Carter: “Irresistible.” Or “Oubliette.”

Question: Have you ever read the tabloids to get ideas for an episode?

Chris Carter: I only read the tabloids for the articles on the “worst dressed.”

Question: Hi, Chris! Have you ever thought about doing a show of just the Lone Gunmen?

Chris Carter: We have done shows of just the Lone Gunmen. If you mean a series of just the Lone Gunmen, we’ve thought of that too. We’re still thinking.

Question: First, please let me thank you for the many great hours of entertainment that you have provided for me and my husband. We would like to know how much of the story line behind “The X-Files” is based upon fact.

Chris Carter: Thank you, first of all. Almost every episode of “The X-Files” is based on science fact. We work very hard to be true to science. You might want to pick up Anne Simon’s book, “Science of the X-Files,” which is just out, that does a wonderful job of explaining the science foundations of the show. But it’s where we go from there that creates the science fiction.

Question: Are the fans going to be paid off by seeing Scully destroy Fowley before the end of the season?

Chris Carter: Stay tuned for the season opening two-parter.

Question: Some of the stuff you write about makes the viewer stop and think… is there any one show that you feel does the same for you?

Chris Carter: Nothing that I can think of. But… I have to say “Gumby” made me stop and think.

Question: Are there going to be any more “X-Files” novels? I really like all the previous ones.

Chris Carter: I can’t say, honestly.

Question: Will the show get refocused next season on paranormal activity with a kitchy twist… like the circus episode?

Chris Carter: We felt last season was very light, and this season we want to see how much we can scare you. But there will be the oddball episode.

Question: Two-parter? What’s that all about?

Chris Carter: We couldn’t tell the story in just one hour of how Mulder survives (or doesn’t) whatever has befallen him in last season’s finale.

Question: Chris, I love your show, but can you tell me if there are going to be any new characters?

Chris Carter: Nothing through the first eight episodes.

Question: Is it true that there will be a sequel to “Irresistible”?

Chris Carter: Yes. Episode seven this year.

Question: Will Smoking Man ever be set free?

Chris Carter: He is free. Or at least discounted.

Question: Will Mulder and Fowley’s past with each other be talked about?

Chris Carter: Referenced.

Question: Mr. Carter, don’t you find it amazing the following “The X-Files” has?

Chris Carter: Every day. It’s like a dream. But I just go with it.

Question: What is the purpose of the rebels? Why do they want to stop colonization?

Chris Carter: They want to control Earth and its resources for themselves.

Question: There are crossovers in fan fiction. I wondered if you ever thought about crossing over with another sci-fi show.

Chris Carter: “Harsh Realm.” Too late now.

Question: Just wondering… did you decide to stop the “Millennium” story line?

Chris Carter: No. The ratings were such that Fox believed that they could do better.

Question: Is the “Consortium” really dead, or are they otherwise detained?

Chris Carter: They’re dead. Good riddance.

Question: Does Fox censor what you can air?

Chris Carter: Only the most indelicate or sensitive images and content. But they are very reasonable and always open for arguments.

Question: Is Fox’s sister even alive?

Chris Carter: Stay tuned for season seven.

Question: Is “Millennium” gone for good, or can we expect Frank Black to make additional appearances on “The X-Files”?

Chris Carter: Frank Black will be in “The X-Files” this season for an episode titled “Millennium.”

Question: Are there any books that have inspired you?

Chris Carter: I was not into science fiction as a kid, but my brother was. I read some of his books, mostly Ursula K. LeGuin.

Question: What do you believe is one of the more astounding facts that the government has kept under wraps?

Chris Carter: That Elvis is alive.

Question: Did you feel that the “flavor” of “The X-Files” changed last season?

Chris Carter: Yes. After the movie, we wanted to take the show in new directions, and it lightened considerably. But David and Gillian are very good comedic actors and they helped, also, to let us choose this direction.

Question: David and Gillian have incredible on-screen chemistry. When did you first begin to sense this?

Chris Carter: I didn’t know it until the first day I saw them on the set, which was in March 1993.

Question: Where did you get the idea for “Neighborhood” episode?

Chris Carter: There were several different elements that came out of a writer’s meeting, but one of them was something called the “Ubermencher,” which I had somewhere in the back of my brain. This was wedded to the idea of a planned community.

Question: Any hope of one last Darren Morgan X-File?

Chris Carter: There’s hope, but that’s about all there is.

Question: How did you come up with the name Fox Mulder?

Chris Carter: Mulder is my mother’s maiden name. But please don’t try to activate credit cards. Fox is the name of a kid I grew up with. And NBC Mulder just seemed too weird.

Question: How long does it take to make an episode from start to finish?

Chris Carter: About five weeks.

Question: What was your very first reaction to the fans’ obsessive behavior towards your shows?

Chris Carter: Glee. Wild glee. And ecstatic jubilation. Speaking in tongues and running around naked.

Question: Will we ever learn more about what Krycek is really up to?

Chris Carter: Yes. Stayed tuned for the season opener and episode #2.

Question: Is Donnie Pfaster really coming back? If so, can you tell us anything about the episode?

Chris Carter: Yes, he’s coming back. And he’s hungry for finger food.

Question: What are your hopes for the upcoming season?

Chris Carter: I hope that the season will be of a quality with the previous six seasons; that if this is the last, that we end with a bang and not a whimper.

Question: Do other people write episodes for you?

Chris Carter: No. There’s a staff of writers, who are mostly listed in the credits as producers.

Question: Will we be seeing more of the bounty hunter this season?

Chris Carter: I don’t know.

Question: When can we expect another feature film?

Chris Carter: I won’t know until we decide when the series ends. But probably a year after that.

Question: Have you decided if this is going to be the last season?

Chris Carter: I haven’t decided yet. There are many things that factor in, including the actors’ desire and their contractual obligations, and my contractual obligations. And keeping the show good and fresh. Also, the writing staff. We wouldn’t want to do it without the people who have gotten us all this way.

TVGuide Chat: Thanks so much, Mr. Carter, for chatting with us! We’ll definitely keep watching, and we wish you the best!

Variety: Fox axes ‘Ryan,’ Carter’s ‘Realm’ shows draw lowest-ever Fri. ratings

Oct-26-1999
Variety
Fox axes ‘Ryan,’ Carter’s ‘Realm’ shows draw lowest-ever Fri. ratings
Michael Schneider

Fox’s fall follies continued Monday with the quick dismissal of new Friday dramas “Harsh Realm” and “Ryan Caulfield: Year One.”

The second outing of “Ryan Caulfield” and third appearance of “Harsh Realm” last week equaled Fox’s lowest-ever Friday-night ratings, averaging a 2.3 Nielsen household rating and 4 share for the night.

The death of executive producer Chris Carter’s “Harsh Realm” comes weeks before Carter’s flagship series “The X-Files” even airs its season premiere.

Fox “botched” the launch of “Harsh Realm,” a disappointed Carter told Daily Variety. “I think in the end it looks rather misguided to have premiered the show without any promotional base, certainly when the reviews of it were good,” he said. “I have a feeling we’re a victim of a much bigger problem at Fox.”

Carter said Fox executives told him they realized they underpromoted “Harsh Realm,” and planned to heavily promote the show for the next seven weeks. “The viewer-awareness levels were pathetically low,” Carter said.

Carter also said he believed that Fox Entertainment president Doug Herzog was never a fan of “Harsh Realm.”

“When I first met Doug I realized he wasn’t a fan of `The X-Files,’ which made me paranoid that he didn’t know what we did over here,” he said.

And when lead-in “Ryan Caulfield” debuted to numbers much lower than expected, it effectively killed “Harsh Realm,” Carter said, adding, “They have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.”

Fox sources said production has halted on both series, although Carter said shooting would continue at least the rest of Monday on “Harsh Realm.” “No one told us to shut down,” he said.

Eight episodes of “Harsh Realm” had already been shot. And with its meager ratings, sources said it’s unlikely that “Harsh Realm” would end up at another network.

Meanwhile, ABC Monday confirmed that the low-rated Thursday-night drama “Wasteland” will be yanked for the duration of the November sweeps, effective immediately. The specials “The Best Commercials You’ve Never Seen” and “Totally Out of Control Vehicles” will air the next two Thursdays. For the second two Thursdays of sweeps, ABC will air an hourlong “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., followed by a repeat of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” ABC had already scheduled “Forrest Gump” for Thanksgiving.

“Because we feel the show never truly got sampled and we believe in the talents of Kevin Williamson and our cast, we plan on relaunching the series again in December,” the network said in a statement.

Chris Carter Yahoo Chat

Oct-15-1999
Chris Carter Yahoo Chat

Sent in by BamaX

Yahoomc: Here he is — The man behind your favorite shows — Chris Carter!

chris_carter_live: Ask away everyone!

robandlisafalzone asks: did the Harsh Realm script change after seeing the Martix?

chris_carter_live: The Harsh Realm was written before we ever knew of the Matrix. We were surprised at some of the similarities, particularly with the hero in both pieces. But we realized that is a not uncommon for the heroe’s journey in these kinds of saga tales.

megmon8 asks: Where did you come up with the idea of your new show?

chris_carter_live: The inspiration originally came from a series of comic books that were brought to me. Fox made a deal with the comic book people. I ended up taking the title and the area of virtual reality. Beyond that, it was really our original idea.

Scullys_tattoo asks: Chris, Can the true blue X-Files fans really get into Harsh Realm? Will you keeep us comming back for more each week? Will it fill the void?

chris_carter_live: Yes, yes, and what void?

RachelLRobinson asks: How, and I am sure you went through it, did you, and do you deal with writers block?

chris_carter_live: I don’t think about it with the double barrel gun that FOX has pointed at my head!

Mutato1121 asks: Is it hard filming Harsh Realm in Vancouver and the X-files in LA?

chris_carter_live: It’s only hard on me, since I’m the one who has to fly back and forth mostly. Buy beyond that it’s really no more difficult than it’s ever been.

catcher79 asks: Will we be seeing any more guest appearances in Harsh Realm? I loved that you had Lance in the premiere!

chris_carter_live: Yes, definitely, stay tuned.

crysteen20 asks: Since the X-Files show maybe ending will any of the actors cross over in to the show Harsh Realm?

chris_carter_live: I haven’t thought about it that far in advance. But Scully’s voice has already made an appearance in Harsh Realm. I would love to use Chris Owen in Harsh Realm. And someone came into my office today and asked me what I thought about casting Bill Davis in a part.

Dyslexic_Scana_Dully asks: I have been a fan of yours for a long time, Mr. Carter, and I’ve noticed that you seem to have large fan-bases for every television show, I could never imagine so many people being as obsessed and into a show, such as The X-Files, but here we are… like a giant cult bowing to your power! What, in your mind, makes your shows so incredibly different?

chris_carter_live: Stood gory telling.

mrsday99 asks: Do you ever work with Stephen King?

chris_carter_live: One of the nicest, most generous, gentle people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I look forward to future collaborations in whatever form and on whatever show.

OznArt asks: Why is Dexter in both worlds? Are there copies of all our pets in Harsh Realm???

chris_carter_live: Yes. Even the dog from Fraser.

Spooky_FBIAgent asks: Chris, First of all I want to say that you’ve done a great job on the X-Files, and that I’m sure that Harsh Realm will be just as popular. I want to ask how are you gonna feel when the X-Files ends this season, for good?

chris_carter_live: You assume too much. And I don’t want to think about how I’m going to feel when the show ends.

wildcatz76 asks: Who was your inspiration for the characters in the X-Files?

chris_carter_live: The names all come from real life characters, but the personalities were composites. Mulder was originally written as somebody who could have been an MTV VJ. I think he’s not quite that luckily.

Wildwings102 asks: how does it feel, to be one of the first successful pioneers in your genre? many people have thought of Scifi as Trekie type shows, but you have change all that!

chris_carter_live: I just set out to originally tell as much story with as many scares as possible. And it has turned out to be a winning formula. But it was simply that. It has been very satisfying.

GoDucki asks: did you always like science fiction?

chris_carter_live: No. I wouldn’t consider myself of science fiction when I was a kid, but my brother was a big fan. He was a big Star Trek fan. And I still claim not to have watched an entire Star Trek episode, until this year, Gary 9 I think it was called. My staff thinks that I am lying.

Yahoomc: What kind of genres were you into?

chris_carter_live: I don’t know if I was a genre person per se. I just loved good movies and good television. I loved Mannix when I was a kid, I watched every episode of Gilligan’s Island. Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Night Gallery and Kolchak The Night Stalker.

berthafanation asks: Are there any other areas you are interested in exploring other than Science Fiction. I think that your talent could take you in many directions?

chris_carter_live: Yes. I want to do a romantic period piece.

jnimbus asks: Were you a huge comic book fan as a kid, Mr. Carter?

chris_carter_live: I was a comic book fan, but like most things when I was a kid, I wasn’t obsessive about any particular thing.

moogie_76 asks: How much do fans’ responses to the show influence its outcome?

chris_carter_live: I have to say very little directly. But indirectly, I think we pay very careful attention and are wounded terribly by criticism, particularly good criticism. We’re overly sensitive writer-producers here. Just teasing.

filmgirl99 asks: As a smart redhead I wish to thank you for the character of Scully

chris_carter_live: I’m very interested in smart redheads and their opinions.

Dawn_311 asks: I read in an article that you feel Harsh Realm could explore different scenarios. So far, I can’t imagine it taking place outside the “battlefield” -type arena. How do you plan on expanding the story??

chris_carter_live: Harsh Realm is really like imagine colonial America if it were developed and looked like America circa 1995. So the United States becomes the playing field, if you will, and not all of it has been destroyed.

xphreak42 asks: One thing that I think really distinguishes your shows is the excellent casting. How do you know when you have found the right person for a role?

chris_carter_live: It’s one of those magic parts of the process where someone comes in and understands the plight or problem of the character and is able to sort of step inside of that character’s clothes. And hears the rhythms the writers had imagined. Sometimes it’s finding that perfect fit,. Other times you find an actor that can suggest a way the character can be rewritten. So sometimes it works one way sometimes the other.

r_michnik asks: were Gillian and David your original choices

chris_carter_live: Both David and Gillian were my original choices for the show. There is a somewhat little known fact that David had accepted the part, but shortly before we were to film, he declined it. And was only reluctantly talked back into doing the role of Mulder.

Czarina_TrustsNo1 asks: Chris…how many cups of coffee do you go through in a week? LoL

chris_carter_live: Far too many. I wish Starbuck was a public company so I could invest in it!

outlaw_torn721 asks: Are you an avid gamer? What Games do you play?

chris_carter_live: I am not. I wish I had time to be. Any chance I have when I see someone else playing a game, I sit down and usually marvel at the thought, artistry and ingenuity that goes into the games. And I love the music to Zelda.

lauracap_2000 asks: Will there be mythology and stand-alone type Harsh Realm episodes?

chris_carter_live: Yes, the plan is to create a mythology that is the backbone of the show. But that there will be stand alone episodes that create the bulk of the stories that make up the season.

xphreak42 asks: Do you feel that making TV shows is harder than making movies?

chris_carter_live: Making movies is a very difficult, tedious and time consuming process. Dedicated to putting roughly 120 minutes of film on the screen. A television season which takes roughly the same amount of time as it does to make a movie, the same amount of energy goes into putting 22 hours of programming on the screen. The difficulties are in maintaining your stamina and each week re-inventing and revitalizing the original movie that began the TV series.

kbillick asks: How long do you work on an idea before it finds its way to being a full blown project? (on the average)

chris_carter_live: Sometimes it’s right at the deadline of the amount of time, maybe a week before the script is written and two weeks before it is filmed. But generally we have something in the works for several months before it is developed into a shootable script.

Wanderer2298 asks: When is the tentative start date for the production of the next movie and about how long do you think it will take to make the movie judging on the time it took for the production of the last one

chris_carter_live: It’s a question that I can’t answer right now. I just hope that we have twice as much prep as we had last time, but I can’t tell you when the movie will be made or when it will be in the theaters.

ZombCat asks: Are there plans to introduce Frank Black to Mulder and Scully? Is Millennium dead as a series or otherwise?

chris_carter_live: Frank Black will appear in the X Files this season in a very special episode. Is Millennium dead? Not if you live on the Internet. Someone is actually creating 22 stories this season that are I guess going to be the 4th season of Millennium.

weyoun2k asks: Mr. Carter, there are quite a few fans of Millennium still out there on the web. Have you heard anything about our virtual fourth season?

chris_carter_live: I haven’t checked it out. But I’m very curious to see how the characters are treated and in what direction the fans take the show so that I can nitpick them!

lmsmlucy asks: Do you ever read what other people write about you or the X-Files on the internet? If so what was the most interesting or funny thing that you read?

chris_carter_live: I am not a cross dresser!

yowsah1 asks: Have you ever considered spinning off the Lone Gunmen into their own, perhaps comedically themed, series?

chris_carter_live: We considered it. And are continuing to consider it seriously.

josechungfan asks: When Gillian left for maternity leave, why did you write in Scully being abducted instead of just at her mother’s? Would the abduction arc even exists if Gillian hadn’t needed a few days off?

chris_carter_live: As soon as we learned Gillian was pregnant we anticipated her departure and her inability to work for some time. So the abduction came from the fact of her pregnancy, but we never anticipated exactly how it would play such an important part in the mythology.

Dyslexic_Scana_Dully asks: Many X-Files fans may argue that the move to LA has affected the show… Do you agree, and if you do, In what ways has it affected the show? Good, bad, or not at all?

chris_carter_live: I don’t believe it’s effected it in any negative way. The show still looks terrific I think. We have different resources in Los Angeles. So we are working with new locations and geography which is a good thing. The only thing missing is all that free atmosphere.

OlenskaL asks: Good evening, Mr. Carter. My Q. is: Do you think that the current trend of “horror” films can be derived from the XF’s popularity?

chris_carter_live: Well horror and science fiction came long before the X Files. But I think that the quality of the X Files has at least for television raised the bar for both of those genres.

jack25522552 asks: From a writer’s stand point what is the toughest thing about developing a character?

chris_carter_live: The toughest thing is always coming up with someone who is original but not in a way that is unfamiliar.

catcher79 asks: Why did you have to kill off Pendrell?!!!! (As you can tell, I am an avid Pendrell fan.) Do you think we could be seeing Brendan Beiser any time on Harsh Realm? (crossing fingers hopefully)

chris_carter_live: Yes, he will be on Harsh Realm. I am flattered.

choochoochild asks: How do you keep track of it all?? It drives me crazy just thinking about it!!

chris_carter_live: It drives us crazy too!

felkor_2000 asks: How did you come across Mark Snow? His music adds so much atmosphere to both “Harsh Realm” and “The X-Files”!

chris_carter_live: Mark Snow was introduced to me by Bob Goodwin who was the executive producer on X Files through its first five seasons. I thought Mark had a very good take on what I wanted, and was open to what I wanted. And then added things that I didn’t know I wanted.

ns_literski asks: Why were the bee-domes at the end of the movie dropped in the series? Will that aspect of the story reappear?

chris_carter_live: Possibly, but I think people are tired of bees now.

leinad_ca asks: Last Seasons X-files finale: Was the scene of Scully walking down the hospital hall (to Albert Hostiens room) shot on video? If not, why does it look different?

chris_carter_live: I believe that scene was a surveillance scene, and if that’s the one you are talking about, it would have been on video.

sat964 asks: Did you expect viewers to hate Diana so much?

chris_carter_live: We hoped that they would. Which is unfortunate because we like Mimi Rogers so much.

oddra67 asks: Is there any truth to the rumor that George Clooney is going to appear in an XFiles Ep?

chris_carter_live: That’s an obscure rumor. I haven’t even heard it!

gmautz59 asks: Chris, were you influenced by David Lynch’s tv series Twin Peaks, and if so did you like David Duchovny’s small role as an FBI agent in episodes that he was in

chris_carter_live: I loved Twin Peaks, but like most people, those first eight episodes were the most important to me. And I get nervous seeing David in a dress.

UberKate1013 asks: Has the real FBI been receptive to the show (XF) or are they indifferent?

chris_carter_live: They are unofficially fans. And they think that the X Files has been very good promotionally for the FBI.

cathleenr13 asks: Do you plan to explain the mysterious hold Krycek has on Skinner?

chris_carter_live: Yes. It’s been somewhat explained, but there is more to come.

prometheus8 asks: It seems that acknowledging the existence of aliens has limited where the X-files can go. Can you comment?

chris_carter_live: Now what we have to determine through the characters and the show is what the aliens are up to and when they might be up to it. Actually it’s just a natural evolution of that story line.

ciila asks: Did you see the Blair Witch Project? What’s your opinion about it?

chris_carter_live: I haven’t seen it yet. Unfortunately. But I have many opinions.

tigger324 asks: what happens if someone dies in the real world, do they also perish in Harsh Realm?

chris_carter_live: If you die in the real world your character is alive in Harsh Realm but can never assume your consciousness.

outlaw_torn721 asks: What software do you use for the special effects in harsh realm?

chris_carter_live: I have no idea. It is done under the very capable authority of Mat Beck. Who does his work away from our main offices here. And keeps his trade secrets to himself.

rishi81_1999 asks: why have u limited yourself to America in Harsh Realm?

chris_carter_live: It’s only the first season. But we plan to do Harsh Realm downunder for season three.

OlenskaL asks: Is there a subject you haven’t treated yet on an episode that you’d like to explore?

Yahoomc: Assuming that’s an X-Files question

chris_carter_live: I’m assuming that is an X Files question. The show really could go on indefinitely. There are so many stories left to tell. But we have certainly mined all the obvious subjects, and robbed all the obvious banks.

orville_third asks: My first question is: What books have influenced your work on the X-Files? (Robert Anton Wilson’s for example.)

chris_carter_live: Definitely Robert Anton Wilson. Colin Wilson for that matter. But the number of books is too great to list. But many of them are science books rather than science fiction. That Ann Simon, the science researcher on the X Files, has just written a book called The Science of the X Files. In bookstores. And I think it is a terrific addition to the show.

Agent_DesiLu asks: Do you ever read Fan Fiction?

chris_carter_live: I have read fan fiction but I don’t regularly. I’ve never lifted an idea from the internet, but my favorite tend to be the more lurid subjects. Or I should say the more lurid tales.

lemon_head_2000 asks: How far ahead did you plan the story arc of the X-Files?

chris_carter_live: If you look at the first two episodes, the pilot episode and Deep Throat, and then look at the Erlenmeyer Flask, you really see the basis of the larger mythology.

brendan2003 asks: PLEASE! I NEED SPOLIERS!!! Can you give any?

chris_carter_live: Mulder and Scully have a very nice New Year’s Eve.

hyperscly asks: Are you in LA or in Vancouver right now doing this live chat? Or are you in some obscure place being held hostage by the gods of Yahoo forcing you to answer questions from rabid fans that you don’t know. . .

chris_carter_live: Stark naked.

Outryder asks: Is there any particular ration you try to achieve between continuing conspiracy shows and non-related investigation shows for the x-files?

chris_carter_live: There is a balance, but it is the non-related shows that outnumber the mythology shows three to one.

Ottid123 asks: In the X-Files: Are there any secrets you wish you hadn’t told to the audience yet?

chris_carter_live: No, we’re very happy with how little we’ve told them, even though in some cases they think we’ve told them more than we should.

Yahoomc: Getting back to Harsh Realm…

T_E_L_E_C_A_S_T asks: pleese answer if it is OK for a 5th grade person to watch your new show. My mom knows you and won’t let me watch unless you say it is OK. can I watch it tonight?

chris_carter_live: Tell your mom it’s a free country. To leave the room and give you the remote control.

cainer_14 asks: Are you a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer? For a suggestion, maybe a crossover episode?!

chris_carter_live: I’ve watched Buffy, but I’m too busy to be a fan. I have never even considered a crossover. Nor do I think they’ve considered a crossover either.

pohlner asks: Are you into Star Wars? Have you ever talked with George Lucas?

chris_carter_live: I am into Star Wars but I’ve never had the pleasure of talking to George Lucas.

renyuan_wong asks: What is the biggest challenge that you face in making the X-files

chris_carter_live: Keeping it fresh and new each week. Through the talents of unrelenting competitiveness of the writing staff.

Ultimus_Terra_Maximus asks: What happens if a living person dies in Harsh Realm? Do they go back to the Real World just as they were?

chris_carter_live: No. Your brain is destroyed and you are left comatose in the real world.

Dawn_311 asks: Are all the episodes of Harsh Realm filmed already? Or do you continue to film throughout the season?

chris_carter_live: We are only finishing right now episode three. So we are right smack up against our deadlines and air dates.

nyctos asks: Do you find any parallels between the Prisoner and Harsh Realm?

chris_carter_live: Yes, I think there are parallels. But I think this show benefits from the use of a technology which has now become familiar to everyone who owns a computer.

britney_duchovny asks: Do you think all the UFO and extraterrestrial stuff is real? Or are you a none -beleiver?

chris_carter_live: I’m a skeptic.

crysteen20 asks: You have such a creative mind, how do you sleep at night?

chris_carter_live: I don’t.

wooly1960 asks: Some people have compared you to the late Rod Sterling…Do you agree with that comparison?

chris_carter_live: I have no idea. He and I both created shows about the unknown. But he distinguished himself beyond that show with works like Requiem for a Heavyweight. So I have a long way to go to ever be compared.

Angel_Babe254 asks: everyone in this room thinks Scully should kill Diana

chris_carter_live: So much for limiting violence on TV!

jazzmynp asks: What’s the scariest thing is in your fridge?

chris_carter_live: The emptiness.

felkor_2000 asks: Have you ever been told you had to “tone down” an episode because it was too graphic?

chris_carter_live: Every week.

outlaw_torn721 asks: Are their aliens in Harsh realm?

chris_carter_live: There may be.

lauraanddan asks: Has there been, or will there be an X-files on bigfoot?

chris_carter_live: Big Foot was referenced but there has never been an actual Bigfoot episode.

carneo asks: do you got plans to make cartoons?

chris_carter_live: We’ve considered it and talked about it, but we have no plans. But I think a Saturday morning X Files cartoon would be fun.

chris_carter_live: Thanks for indulging me and watch Harsh Realm!

Yahoomc: Thanks for joining us Chris!

Chris Carter on the Kevin & Bean Show

Oct-08-1999
Chris Carter on the Kevin & Bean Show

KROQ 106.7FM Los Angeles

[Transcribed by Keyg]

K: Kevin

B: Bean ([1]recently moved to Seattle and co-hosts from his home)

L: Lisa (third co-host/traffic reporter)

K: This is the world-famous KROQ, 106.7 K-R-O-Q. Kevin and Bean Show at 8:12.

B: I don’t know if this is true or not, maybe I’m just assuming, but I like to think that we’re a good luck charm for Chris Carter. That’s why he comes in to see us every time he has a new project.

K(laughing): I’m sure that’s it.

B: With each new launch.

K: …I’m sure that’s it. Chris, welcome.

C: Thank you very much.

K: Always glad to have you on KROQ.

B: Chris, I’m glad I’m in Seattle[1] now cause I don’t have to go down and do that thing in your car like you always make me do. (laughing)

B: Ya know what I mean?

Lisa(laughing): …tgeez, Bean, hehheheheh…

B: …it’s nice. How, uh, how you been? What cha been up to?

C: Uh, you know, I’m working hard, I’m doing X-Files and this new show, Harsh Realm. So, uh, plenty of work, that’s for sure.

B: …plenty of work. That’s the thing about you. You never seem to take a vacation for very long.

C(laughing): No, I don’t.

K: Wh– H-How– Why?

C: Uh, you know, it’s–

K: Take the business when it’s good or–

C: –Contracts and you– You ride the wave till it crashes.

K: Yeah. And when it crashes, are you gonna go, “Wooo. That was a hell of a ride.”

C(laughing): …probably so…

B: Maybe you ought to just start making crappier shows. (laughing)

B: I mean, that would get you out of the contracts faster.

C(laughing): That’s the Hollywood way.

B: Yeah. You could just relax. You could go, “All right, I tanked that one, now if I could tank one more, then I’m free.”

K: Now, let’s start, let’s start with The X-Files. Cause there’s a lot of X-Files, uh, talk about Duchovny not being around, blahblahblah… You still have two more years of The X-Files. Is that right?

C: Uh, we don’t know. Uh, this could be the last year of The X-Files. There’s– There’s lots of stuff that, uh, needs to be decided before we can really, uh, make that decision.

K: And what is some of that stuff?

C: You know, there’s– There’s contracts. I don’t have a contract. David doesn’t have a contract. Gillian has one more year left in her contract. Uh, but, uh, you know, there’s this, uh, this lawsuit hanging out there. So things need to be resolved right now.

B: Now, the lawsuit is, uh, is Mr. Duchovny has actually sued you.

C(laughing): whoops,uh (laughing)

C: No, he’s not– I’m– I’m actually not–

B: You’re not named.

C: No. no.

B: It’s the suits.

K: He sued… What’s the story? He sued Fox for selling it?

C: It’s a contractual dispute. So it’s, uh, you know, it’s– business. Heheh.

K: That you can’t talk about.

C(laughing): yeah

K: All right. I understand.

B: But here’s the thing though. If the show is going off the air after this coming season — I would imagine you’re already several episodes in to the new season, right?

C: Yeah. Uh, yes.

B: So you’re going to have to start wrapping up some loose ends over the next ten episodes that you write or whatever it is.

C: Yeah. We have to kind of decide sooner or later, probably, you know, round middle of, uh… first of the year, uh, you know, what we want to do, uh, if this is going to be the last season and to wrap up the Mulder, you know, mythology, uh, to do with the sister and stuff.

K: I know you’re gonna– That’s the plan, if this is the last year, you’re going to wrap up all–

C: Well, no. Heheheh.

K: Cause if you tease, to wait for a movie, I’m going to have to beat you up.

L(laughing): And yet I sense that’s exactly where he’s going. Yeah.

K: That’s the thing, right? You’re still planning on doing movies.

C: Yeah. Well, that’s the big, you know, uh, hope is that we can turn this TV series into a movie series.

B: Like they did with the Star Trek

K: Next Generation.

C: Yeah, sort of like that.

B: What do you hope happens, Chris? How would you like to see it play out?

C: I don’t know right now because, uh, (laughing) it’s, uh, what is it, October, and we’re already, you know, just scraping the Christmas to get two weeks there and to scrape to April to finish the work, so right now, all I’m trying to do is to make this season good. Um… You know–

K: You tired of it?

C: No, I’m not tired of it. Actually, what’s the great thing about X-Files and, I hope, about Harsh Realm is that they are really good vehicles for telling stories, and so you never get tired of that cause if something works, it makes it fun, it makes it fun to write for the…

K: But don’t you just sit there sometimes and go, “All right, let’s see, I used bees in the movie…”

K: “…and I got the alien with this and that, and there’s people who can tell the future, and… I come out.”

B: I think Chris has twelve hundred post-it notes on his refrigerator.

B: That’s what I think. And that’s how he keeps all the plotlines straight.

K: You ever come to a point where you think, “I can’t think of another interesting idea.”

C: You don’t because, uh, what you realize is when you really start to think about it, it’s kind of limitless, you really could go on forever, but it does get harder– Your mind– Sort of easy subjects and genre, uh, but, uh, I think, actually, the stories get better as you go because it’s stuff nobody’s ever thought of.

K: And do you feel that you’re getting stronger as a writer working this hard at it for so long?

C: You– You develop by the instincts, and you start to trust them more.

B: It also does help when you get to a point where the, uh, the characters are so well established that you can do a lot of things with them that the audience will understand.

C: Right. Uh, so, there’s a lot of shorthand, and you– Actually, the thing about a show like The X-Files is that it’s very elastic, you know, it can parody itself, it can make fun of itself, in a way that, uh, only a show that feels confident of itself can do.

K: I’ll tell you what’s cool is that you are good at writing those moments that blow people away. And one of those moments is one of my favorite movie moments from the X-Files movie when the guy sits down in front of the Coke machine and just sits there till it explodes.

C: Yeah.

K: I mean, that kind of thing is just great.

C: Yeah. yeah.

K: Is that part of the fun of writing a series like this or…

C: It is. Of course, you can’t do that on TV, so you know, you have to wait until the movies to do, you know, the real, uh, good stuff.

K: Do you have an idea of what the next movie is uh…

C: Yeah, we have an idea. We want to do a stand-alone, just really good scary movie not something that’s tied into the mythology of the show.

K: oh really

C: Yeah.

B: Can Gillian Anderson be a Catholic school girl who smells her armpits?

K: That’s already taken care of. That’s “Superstar.”

B: Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s the Saturday Night Live movie. I’m sorry.

K: What does that look like?

B: …bad thing…

K: Let me ask you two more casting things about The X-Files then we’re going to move on to the new show. One is we heard Lance, our friend, Lance Henriksen from–

C: yeah

K: –late of “Millennium”–

C: yes

K: –is going to be on The X-Files in some capacity. Is that true?

C: He’s going to play Frank Black on an episode of The X-Files that actually, uh, is our millennium (laughing) episode. So we actually get to sort of wrap up that character and, uh, something very significant is going to happen on New Year’s, as you might imagine, between Mulder and Scully.

K: oh, interesting…

B: That really, uh– It occurs to me, although we haven’t seen you officially since “Millennium” was pulled off the schedule by Fox, but that really sucked that they didn’t give you another six months to actually carry it through to May of 2000 which was such a central point for the program.

C: Yeah, uh… The show went three years and it wasn’t really a big ratings getter, so I was happy to have it on for that long. But, you know, uh, it would have been a tough year to do that show because the climate, right now, is very sensitive, uh, to, uh, that kind of drama.

K: yeah

B: Yeah, I was going to ask you what you thought about that because– We haven’t even talked about this on the show– but you probably know that NBC has this movie that is going to portray a whole host of end-of-the-world problems–

C: right

B: — with the electricity going out, the ATM machines not working, and people looting. And they have just been lambasted by people who say how irresponsible it would be to put that on the air prior to the millennium and kind of get everybody worked into a frenzy. Do you run into situations often where you kind of can’t tell a story because of what the audience will do?

C(laughing): No. That’s exactly what I want to do, uh, is I want to, you know, create hysteria.

K: That’s why you’re our kind of guy.

B: You’re going to whip everybody into a needless frenzy as much as possible. And Terry O’Quinn, who is also from “Millennium”, he’s going to be on The X-Files this year, too, right?

C: Yeah. Terry O’Quinn, uh, actually, yeah, right, he was on the X-Files Season Two, I believe, and, uh, then had a reoccurring part on “Millennium”, and was actually in the X-Files movie too, so he’s now a big part of our show.

B: He is one of the most underrated actors on television. That guy should be a huge star. He is great.

C: He is great. My– My wife has a big thing for him.

K: Oh, is that right.

B: Mine– Mine too.

K: …doesn’t everyone. All right, Chris Carter is in the studio. We do need to take a quick break. But when we come back, you have a brand new series that debuts tonight.

C: yeah

K: It’s called “Harsh Realm”. And we’ll find out all about it when we come back on KROQ.

K: This is the world-famous KROQ, 106.7 K-R-O-Q. It is the Kevin and Bean Show at 8:27.

B: play the music now [music]

B: There it is. That’s the theme song for a show that you’ll see for the first time on the FOX network tonight, 9 o’clock. It’s called “Harsh Realm”. Our friend, Chris Carter, is in the studio. He created the show. And, uh, we talked to D.B. Sweeney, one of the stars, a couple of days ago, and, let me tell you, the way that he described it, sounds pretty ‘f’ed up.

K: I’m gonna describe it from what I remember. There’s video games and the guy gets sucked in and somehow his subconscious fights the battle and he’s in a coma…

L(laughing): Kevin, that’s pretty bad.

K: What the hell’s going on with that show, Chris?

B: It’s an alternative universe, right, Chris?

C: …another dimension.

L: …virtual reality.

K: Explain it to us.

C: Well, it’s a, uh, it’s like a virtual reality game where you plug your mind in to it, and, uh, then you are virtually in it, and, uh, everything’s real, uh, and the consequences to every action is real. So it’s a duplicate, or parallel, of this world.

K: And you’re– I think he explained it, you’re in a coma–

C: right

K: –when you’re in the game–

C: right

K: –cause your mind is not here.

C: Yes, you’re laying on a slab.

K: Dude, that’s pretty cool.

C: Yeah.

B: Here’s what we were trying to figure out — and I think we asked D.B. this, but I’m not sure what he said — are there any kind of– If you do something in the real world, does it affect the alternate universe and vice versa?

C: Uh, yeah, there’s consequences for action on both sides. We’ll learn as, uh, as the show progresses, we’ll learn that, actually, Harsh Realm may be all that exists in the end.

K: All right, let’s say that they take my mind, and they put me in to Harsh Realm and I get, uh, my left arm cut off.

C: yes

K: Then what happens in real life? Is my left arm gone?

C: No, your left arm is not gone.

K: oh

C: But uh–

L: But it hurts like hell?

C: It hurts like hell.

K: Where did this idea come from? Is this a comic book?

C: Yeah, there’s a comic book called “Harsh Realm”, but we just kind of took the title, and then, uh, went from there, really.

K: And where did the idea come from? Have you always wanted to do something with the virtual reality?

C: I’m interested in the virtual reality, and the funny thing is, we were making the show, and we kept seeing trailers for this really cool thing called “The Matrix”.

K: Yeah.

L: Yeah.

C: So, obviously, other people are interested in it too. But it’s a good way to tell stories, and it’s not a new way of telling stories, it’s telling stories about another dimension, a parallel dimension, which is equivalent to ours where you have a double, and, uh, these are sort of staples of science fiction.

K: So we all have doubles.

C: Yeah. Kevin and Bean are in Harsh Realm.

K: Are they funny in that realm?

C: Yeah. They’re– They’re really funny.

L(laughing): …as it turns out…hehehaha…

B: So it’s an opposite universe.

B: They’re also immensely popular.

B: Uh, you– I know that you’re a guy who seems to be comfortable with science, and you don’t mind doing the research. Uh, where do you see this headed for us other than 1999? I mean, they are developing virtual realities all round the world.

C: right

B: What do you envision in the future we’re going actually be able to do?

C: heheh

B: I mean, already, there are suits that you can put on where you can simulate sex with somebody on the other side of the computer, you know–

C: right

B: But, I mean, now are we going to get to a point where it’ll seem like we’re walking around in our house or going on a– driving a car or whatever.

C: Yeah. I think that will all happen, I think, in the not-too-distant future. Actually, I was just listening to something last night about artificial intelligence, and they said that machines will actually be voting pretty soon, and I bet you they’ll do a lot better job than us.

K: heheh. Well, that’s a little scary.

C(laughing): …it is scary.

K: Um, so– But the plotline in this is that there’s some kind of a killer… that he’s going after– Do you want to or not go into–

C: Yeah, I’ll tell you the whole thing. The whole thing is that there’s a guy named Santiago who’s gone into the game, and he’s a decorated combat veteran. He’s taken over Harsh Realm, and he’s going to become the sort of King of Harsh Realm. And they send Hobbes in to take him out, like a game, but what we realize is that Santiago actually wants to control– not just control Harsh Realm for his own purposes, uh, to control it, but because he wants to destroy the real world. If you will.

K: How different does the alternate universe look than the real universe on the TV show?

C: It looks exactly like it, except that– Imagine all the rules are taken away, and it’s survival of the fittest, uh, you know, the strongest survive.

K: What do you mean by all the rules are taken away? Like, they can… fly?

C: Well, there’s no, uh, government in place that– It’s really just, uh–

K: Chaos.

C: It’s chaos, and, uh, this guy Santiago though, has created this emerald city. He actually has created a utopia, but you have to play by his rules. So he’s kind of a fuehrer, if you will.

K: That sounds great.

B: Will Kevin understand it at all?

L: heheheh

C: It’s actually– it’s really easy. I think that some people think it’s difficult because it’s science fiction, and, uh, you know, once you get in to it, the rules are real simple.

K: If I don’t, can I call you and…

C: yeaheheh

B: heheheh

C: …hotline…

B: Chris Carter Cliff Notes?

K: heheheh

B: Now what is– What’s the deal they’re doing? They got it on tonight, but then they also have it on Sunday night–

C: Yeah. They–

B: What is– What is your real time slot going to be?

C: Friday nights at nine, which is actually where the last three shows I’ve done have premiered, so, uh–

K: Isn’t that a tough time slot?

C: It’s a tough time slot because, uh, a lot of people go out on that night.

K: yeah

C: So you have to really– You can’t steal an audience, you really got to build an audience.

K: Why do they keep giving you Friday night at nine?

C: Well, you know, I–

K: Is it a curse?

C(laughing): It’s a blessing and a curse.

B: It seems like you’ve earned the time slot that you want.

C: Yeah. But it’s– It’s not a bad time slot. It really is, uh– We did well with The X-Files, and when we went to Sundays, we became this giant hit.

K: right

C: Uh, but, uh…

K: So you should say this time, “Hey, I want to be on Sunday.”

C: Well, you know, I’m– I’m happy to be here, and hopefully, we can do the same thing as X-Files.

B: Let me ask you about one more show because one of your friends is behind this “Roswell”.

C: Yeah.

B: One of the guys who worked on The X-Files.

C: David Nutter.

B: When I saw that show this week– It was so X-Files-like. I don’t know if you’ve had the opportunity to watch it or not, but, man, it seems like a show that you should have been doing.

C: heheh

K: heheh

C: Uh… heheh. M-Maybe.

B: Did you like it? Did you see it?

C: You know, I saw the beginning of it. Uh, and I read the script, so, um, I knew what the subject matter–

B: The kid walks in. He’s an alien and heals someone by putting his hand on her, on her wound, and I thought, well, doesn’t that look familiar.

K: Hey, I saw that on The X-Files.

C: Season Three.

K: heheheh

B: Have we seen that before?

K: heheheh

C: hmm…

B: It’s weird. And I don’t know if it has anything to do with what you were talking about a little bit ago about the pre-millennium tension that seems to be in the air, but people seem to really be in to sci-fi right now.

C: yeah

B: I mean, it seems like a great time for the genre because you could have gone a lot of years on television schedules in this country, and there wouldn’t have been any shows about science fiction.

K: That’s true.

B: And now it seems like, thanks to the success of The X-Files, that there are a bunch of shows that are out there that are doing it for who like this sort of thing, so “Harsh Realm” is coming at a good time, I guess.

C: Uh, I hope so. I mean, it’s more science fiction than I’ve ever done, so, uh, it’s– It’s something new for me.

K: Does it feel weird to you to be named Time Magazine’s, like, one of the Most– What was it? One of the Most– 25 Most Influential People?

C: Yes. Heheh.

K: Is that just like–

C: Yeah. I–heh–

L: …cause he’s out surfing in the morning.

K(laughing): Yeah, you know, what the hell.

C: It’s weird.

K: Do you pick– You know, do you pick up chicks and stuff with that?

K: Time! Time Magazine! I need a table! Time Magazine!

B: How many copies of that do you have in your truck right now that you need to pass out, know what I mean?

K: Front of the line! Disneyland, front of the line! Time Magazine!

B: Chris, by the way, is going to be doing a live chat for folks who have their own questions for him. Certainly, you can do a better interview than we can. Uh, that’s going to be next Friday at 7 o’clock on www.fox.com. That’s next Friday. And your birthday is next week too, Chris.

C: yes

B: What are you going to be doing for that?

C: Uh… (laughing)Nothing.

B: Just working, aren’t you–

K: –working.

C: Work, like every year.

K: …man, oh man… Well, you know what fans we are of you, and we don’t just say that cause you’re sitting in the room. We always support your shows. We always talk about them cause they’re really quality television. We’re going to be tuning in tonight, 9 o’clock, for “Harsh Realm”. And, as usual, we thank you for coming into the studio today.

C: Thanks.

GA: Hi, this is Gillian Anderson from ‘The X-Files’ with a warning from the government. If you listen to the Kevin and Bean show, you will die. Good luck.

New York Daily News: A Peek Into Fox’ New ‘Realm’

Oct-07-1999
New York Daily News
A Peek Into Fox’ New ‘Realm’
David Bianculli

When Chris Carter unveiled “The X-Files” in 1993, it premiered with little fanfare and no expectations. Tomorrow, when Carter’s newest series, “Harsh Realm,” debuts on Fox, things will be a little different – but, Carter insists, they will also be quite similar.

“The trick,” Carter said earlier this week, “is going to be to get people to come to the show and hook into it.

“Because it has, like ‘The X-Files,’ a mythology that is important to it, but it will also have good stand-alone stories to tell as well. I’ve always said [that] on Friday nights [the original home of “The X-Files”] you had to build an audience rather than steal one. And I think that’s going to be the case here again.”

Last time, critics and viewers were on their own as the “X-Files” – involving vaccination conspiracies, extraterrestrial hybrids, killer bees and black oil – slowly and puzzlingly unfolded.

This time, Carter and co-executive producer Frank Spotnitz took the unusual step of trying to explain their show before the fact.

The premise has a good-guy Army lieutenant named Thomas Hobbes (Scott Bairstow) sent to a virtual-reality version of Earth to find and capture a messianic renegade named Santiago (Terry O’Quinn), whose ultimate goal is to rule the real world. In the alternate reality, Hobbes links up with a reluctant hero named Mike Pinocchio, played by D.B. Sweeney.

Hobbes and Pinocchio. Think Scully and Mulder.

“It’s Scully and Mulder who really make people want to watch ‘The X-Files,’ as fantastic as the cases are they investigate,” Spotnitz said. “And I think the same is going to be true of ‘Harsh Realm.’ If it’s a success, it’s going to be because people come to love and care about Hobbes and Pinocchio.”

So what is the mythology, and what are the rules?

“Because it is a digital world and it is the construct of programmers, or one programmer,” Carter said, “you get a chance to have an almost sort of Greek mythology, with the gods above and the subjects below. And they will be able to walk into any kind of world the programmers decide to throw at them.”

Early episodes will explore the city and outlying area controlled by Santiago, but soon the characters will venture to other cities and effects – digital facial makeovers and a lake whose reflection can clone people are only two. Unlike a video game, though, the rule is when you die in this digital world, you’re dead. No replays. No extra lives.

Carter also offered a more concise outline of “Harsh Realm” than he ever provided about “The X-Files.”

“Harsh Realm [the computerized alternate reality] is exactly like our world, circa 1995,” he said. “Everything was scanned in. Every building, every person. All of us are there in Harsh Realm in a digital form.

“Except that in Harsh Realm, a nuclear bomb went off in 1995 in New York City, leading to the chaos that Santiago has now capitalized upon to build his dictatorship.”

Hope that helps. “Harsh Realm” premieres tomorrow night at 9 on Fox. In this reality, anyway.

Chris Carter on Art Bell

COAST W/ART BELL
Interview date: October 6, 1999

Highlights

-Midnight Express
-Carter’s bio
-Harsh Realm

-6th Extinction
-Millennium
-Where Chris gets his ideas from
-Gov. agencies

-Lance Hendrickson
-Keeping Gov. conspiracies secret
-How X-Files was conceived

-Future of X-Files
-Y2K, an event?
-New ideas

The X-Files Magazine: Going Hungry

Oct-??-1999
The X-Files Magazine [US, #11, Fall 1999]: Going Hungry
Gina McIntyre

[typed by Gayle]

In season seven’s first stand-alone, Vince Gilligan tells the tale of a monster’s tragic eating disorder. Vince Gilligan has everyone fooled. The X-Files writer/co-executive producer best known for quirky episodes like Seasons Four’s “Small Potatoes” and Season Five’s “Bad Blood” projects an unmistakable Southern charm; in person, he is amiable, easy-going, good-natured. But lurking somewhere deep within his psyche is a villainous imp. There must be. There’s simply no other explanation for how someone so unassuming could send property master Tom Day on a mission as revolting as hunting down real brains for the inaugural stand-alone episode of the series ‘ seventh year, the all-too-appropriately named “Hungry.”

The story of a monster in disguise who uses his part-time job slinging burgers to sate his unstoppable and quite literal appetite for the cerebral. “Hungry” is a throwback tot he show’s classic take on horror, with touches of Gilligan’s irrepressible wit thrown in for good measure. Although the episode will air third in the season line-up, scheduling demands mandated that it was the first to be filmed. As stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were both completing work on features they shot over the hiatus, a Mulder/Scully-light story was needed to begin the roster. Gilligan’s unusual and intriguing stand-alone offered the perfect solution.

“Originally, I wanted to do a story about a monster from the monster’s point of view,” the writer offers. “sort of like an episode of Columbo where you were following the bad guy throughout the show and then Columbo, or in this case Mulder, keeps coming in and asking questions that make it clear that he suspects our main guy. It seemed like a fun idea. What I really wanted to do, if it really worked correctly [was] to have it by the end of the show [that] you’re rooting for the monster. You’re sort of not happy every time Mulder and Scully show up because you don’t want the poor guy to get caught. I don’t know if it will work like that when you watch it but that was the intention.”

X-Philes displeased at the intrusion of their favorite agents? The unlikely prospect made Gilligan’s task that much more formidable. To capture the pair’s signature chemistry without using them as the center of the narrative, the writer employed inventive storytelling devices.

“It was a very interesting experiment.” Gilligan admits. “By the time I got through it I was realizing that this is why we don’t tell stories this way, because Mulder and Scully get so little screen time in comparison. I don’t know how much the fans are going to like this one. I hope the do and they see [that] at least we tried something different. I’m real proud of it. The fans so like Mulder and Scully, so enjoy watching then on screen together, and this episode by virtue of the fact that it had a different structure to it, they’re on screen much less. I mean they still have that Mulder/Scully dynamic and yet I had to be very scrupulous about only showing it from this guy’s point of view.”

While Gilligan’s script offers yet another approach to the classic X-Files formula, it also helped ease the crew back into the routine of shooting television’s most cinematic series. Nearly everyone working on the L.A. set praises the episode not only for its ingenuity, but for the fact that it allowed them the rare opportunity to gradually work back into the show’s frenetic pace. Rather than exhausted seniors battling final exam week with too little sleep and too much caffeine, the principals seem more like classmates reunited on the playground after a relaxing, homework-free summer.

Not that there’s a dearth of activity on Stages Five and Six on the Twentieth Century Fox lot, The X-Files’ home when not shooting on location. On this, the sixth of eight days of first unit photography on “Hungry,” the construction team has been toiling since 5 a.m. to strike the various sets no longer needed for the episode, make changes to existing pieces and begin planning for what the next script will bring. Music from an unseen radio blares from across the stage; sawdust litters the air, seen only in the rays of sun streaming in from the open doors at either side of the building. Voices call to one another, sharing jokes and plans for lunch.

In the midst of this bustle, Day enters the safe confines of his office, which is nestled along the side of Stage Six, camouflaged in part by Mulder’ s apartment and various props and pieces of set dressing. After enjoying a pleasant summer hiatus, Day admits he was ready to get back into the swing of things, but was quite astonished to learn what Gilligan had in store for him.

“Fried brains, that was one of the highlights,” Day says, shaking his head. “At one point, we need to simulate human brains. We actually had a brain test day where we went out to the different meat-packing places and brought in a bunch of your different varmints’ brains, cow and pig and sheep, to see which one would look the best and which one would sit on the set properly.”

Given that Day has been working in the industry for years, one might think that brain detail would be less grisly that it sounds. Not so, he says. It was possibly the most grotesque assignment to ever come his way. “It’s right up there,” he says, “It took some getting used to. It took a leap of faith to jump in and say this will all work just fine. I talked to the medical technician on Chicago Hope because they use all kinds of animal parts, stuff you could even go to the market and buy. Obviously when you’re simulating surgery you have to have something. I talked to them about what’ s best to sue for rain. We found steer brain worked best. They could have had [special effects make-up coordinator] John Vulich whip out some brains, but I don’t know in all honesty if it would have looked the same. It looked great for what we were doing with it. It was perfect.”

For his part, Gilligan felt no remorse at sending Day on his stomach-turning errand. “They love this stuff.!” He says with a smirk, “I think they said they used steer brains. I would have thought they’d be too big, but I guess not. I mean they’re not super-smart animals, but their heads are so big you ‘d think their brains would be bigger than ours. That was pretty funny. Then they have to cook them once they’re out there. They have to put them on a hot grill. I don’t know what brains do when you grill them. People eat calves’ brains. I’ve never had them. I don’t know what they taste like.”

If there’s brain on the grill, you might guess which of the X-Files stable of directors would be behind the lens. Infamous for his affection for the gruesome, the tireless Kim Manners found in “Hungry” material he could really sink his teeth into, aside from its horrific menu. As odd as it might sound, the script is actually a subtle character study about one man’s seemingly futile struggle to conquer insurmountable odds.

“I think they tailor made it for me,” the director says. “It’s one of mine. I’m having a good time with it. I had a good time off and I’m feeling really fresh. Normally when I do my first show of a season, you come in with butterflies and you’re always a little frightened. It’s been two or three months without directing, talking to actors, pointing the camera, but I feel like my brain’s on Viagra. I’m very, very excited. I’m getting great film and great performances, and that’s what it’s about.”

According to Manners, guest star Chad E. Donella, who portrays peculiar anti-hero Rob Roberts, is responsible for one of those “great performances.” The actor, whose previous television appearances include stints on such impressive series as ER and the Practice, recently completed work on Flight 180, the feature debut of X-Files vets Glen Morgan and James Wong, perhaps accounting for his ability to key into the show’s dark spirit. “Chad is an outstanding actor.” Manners raves. “He’s really carrying this episode, [Because] the episode is from Rob Roberts’ point of view, the ball is really in Chad’s court. He’s doing tremendous job.”

Of course, man cannot become monster alone. To truly assume the aspect of an otherworldly creature, one needs special effects – and lots of ’em. Supervising Donella’s transformation from mild-mannered fast-food employee to intimidating and ravenous fiend are FX make-up artist Greg Funk and visual effects maven Bill Millar. Prosthetically, the monster is comprised of three separate pieces-a forehead appliance, a bald cap and a nose piece. To completely transform the actor into his hideous alter-ego took nearly three hours, Funk says, adding that the metamorphosis was complicated because certain scenes required Donella to remove portions of the make-up himself.

“He has a disguise on and he takes all the pieces off,” Funk explains. “It can’t just be a make-up job-boom, he’s the monster. We’ve got to make it so a human disguise comes off revealing this monster, almost kind of Mission Impossible-like without pulling a whole mask right off. He pulls off little ears, takes [his] wig off. Kim was very specific. He said, ‘It’s gotta be good.'”

One of the creature’s most distinguishing attributes is its rows of deadly teeth, which it uses to extract sustenance from its victims. The lethal incisors had to be fashioned digitally by Millar. “The monster has shark-like teeth, several rows of them, which are seen to slide in and out of his jaw as he opens his mouth,” he says. “He covers that with an artificial set of dentures which makes it look as though he had normal teeth. He removes those teeth and we see nothing but gums and then these razor-sharp rows of teeth slide out of the gums. To build that prosthetically would have been difficult and also would have extended the gum to the end of the actor’s [real] teeth, which would have looked somewhat strange. We’re doing all that digitally and enhancing the mouth and shortening the practical teeth digitally and then introducing the shark teeth. They’ll be a digital composite generated with CGI teeth and tracked into the mouth.”

Finding a place for all this monster business to occur fell to locations manager Ilt Jones. After scouring Southern California for a restaurant that would employ a brain-eating monstrosity, he stumbled onto a Mom and Pop-owned hamburger stand named Lucky Boy in a working class Los Angeles neighborhood called Southgate.

“There’s a Greek family who owned it for 38 years,” Jones says. “It’s actually one of the first burger joints in L.A. It was right around the time of the first McDonald’s, 1948, [that] they built it. It’s actually something of a landmark in the neighborhood. It’s much nicer than your average generic Burger King or something like that. It’s got a huge neon sign, lots of fun lights. It’s got a great look. I’m happy to have found that. I combed L.A. looking for burger joints because none of the big boys wanted to touch us. Curiously enough, McDonald’s didn’t want to be associated with somebody who ate brains.”

After Jones discovered the kitschy locale, the rustic restaurant was given a slight overhaul by construction coordinator Duke Tomasick and his crew. “We had a lot of work to do at the restaurant,” Tomasick says. “We had to make it what it needed [to be] for the script. We were down there for five working days. We took an average-looking restaurant, and we made it nice. We repainted everything, brought in a lot of greens, made some new signs. The owner of the place is probably happy.”

Except for the fact that there was a monster working behind the grill luring unsuspecting customers to their deaths, the owners were undoubtedly pleased. (At least the monster was kind enough to vacate the premises when filming wrapped.) For the scene in which the creature claims its first victim, the restaurant’s drive-thru was used as a clever snare for an unsuspecting unnamed “Hungry Guy.” As the man drives to the open take-out window, the equally hungry monster snatches him from his car for a quick bite.

The sequence, which serves as the episode’s teaser, was shot in the wee hours of a mid-August Saturday morning, explains stunt coordinator Danny Weselis. For the scene, Weselis used a double in the place of the actor cast as Hungry Guy, the stuntman wore a vest-like harness that was rigged with a cable underneath the costume. “From the camera you couldn’t see the cable,” Weselis says. “You see his whole body leaning out of the car. We had three effects men on the other end. We had fall pads inside [the restaurant] so when he got pulled through the window, he actually slid across the countertop and landed on the top of the fall pads. On the count of three, they pulled, he was out of the car, through the window.”

At that point, the script called for the drivers car to creep forward. Obviously, a real runaway car is far too much of a danger on a television set, so Weselis climbed on the floor and took control of the wheel. The only catch was he couldn’t see where he was going. Fortunately, the stunt went off without a hitch.

“As he goes through the window I was lying in the car blind-driving it,” he explains. “I took the driver’s seat out of the car, lay on the floor, covered myself in black so you couldn’t see me. I could just barely look out of the top of the windshield. When [my stuntman] got yanked out of the car, I just sort of crept forward, went out the driveway and made a slight left turn and he headed across the street. Traffic was blocked, obviously. I just ran into the curb.”

In addition to driving an out-of-control vehicle, “Hungry” required the enterprising Weselis to dispose of a corpse-in broad daylight with witnesses, no less. As he devises a way to tackle this latest obstacle, a group of onlookers gathers across the street from the apartment building in the trendy L.A. neighborhood of Los Feliz where the production has moved for the day.

Watching from beneath a black tarp, Manners, sporting a white X-Files T-shirt and his new short haircut, sits surrounded by a barrage of camera equipment, artificial tree limbs and an assortment of black and white trash bags stuffed with paper. Soon, he and the stunt coordinator discuss Weselis ‘ carefully choreographed designs for tossing the body of stuntwoman Annie Ellis out with the garbage. Unrecognized beneath the remarkable work of Emmy-award winning make-up team Cheri Montesanto-Medcalf and Kevin Westmore, the normally sun-tanned and svelte Ellis has assumed the identity of the unfortunate Sylvia Jassy, a nosy neighbor who falls prey to the monster’s malignant hunger. Dressed in a flowered house dress and covered with layers of padding, Ellis undergoes final touch-ups, which include being doused in even more fake blood, before climbing into a trashcan.

“We put her inside one of those big trashcans, like the ones outside residential areas, and the trash truck’s going to pick her up,” Weselis says. “Inside the trash truck, we’ve got fall pads and boxes with padding in there. We’re going to slowly dump her in. She’s got a big, nice area to fall into. It’s a brand new truck, actually. It’s not one of those old ones. I already tested it out myself a couple of weeks ago, got the arc of the trashcan and put a pad in there. It’s over pretty quick, and you’ve got a big landing area. There’s no problem with that.”

He’s right. Despite having to repeat the action four times, Ellis escapes unharmed and manages to stage her landing perfectly for the camera. Manners repeatedly praises her, and pleased, the crew breaks for an early lunch – promptly at 3:30 p.m. Over his meal, Manners discusses the myriad components that comprise his first Season Seven outing, the out-and-out horror, the black humor, the poignant tragedy of Rob Roberts’ dual nature. It’s a potent mix and one that the director seems quite confident will find a place in the hearts of X-Philes.

“I think the fans are going to love the show because it’s scary,” he states. “We’re having a chance to shoot scary, [with] tight eyes, a guy waiting, points of view, a lot of tension. I think that’s what the fans like. I know it’s what I like as an audience member. I want to do more shows like ‘Home’-shows that when the audience turns them off they go, ‘Wow,'” Manners says, adding, “I think that’s what I’m going to try to do this year.”

The X-Files Magazine: The Next Files

Oct-??-1999
The X-Files Magazine [US, #11, Fall 1999]
The Next Files

X-Files Magazine: How does it feel to begin work on the much rumored final season?

Spotnitz: Every story feels like it’s got a lot of weight attached to it because they may be the last 22. We’re being careful about what stories we choose to tell. One of the very first things we did was sit down and talk about all of our major characters and where they’re going to go and how they’re going to end. Where’s Skinner going to end up? Where’s Krycek going to end up? What’s the last image you’ll see of CSM? It’s a little sad actually to be thinking about those things, but it’s kind of exciting too.

X-Files Magazine: What can you reveal about the initial episodes?

Spotnitz: We’re going to begin with kind of a two-parter. The season finale from last year will not be resolved right away. There’ll be two episodes. There’ll be a major new character introduced there. We’re going to do some storylines that David Duchovny actually suggested in those first two. Then we go in to stand-alones. Vince Gilligan’s working on a story that’s told from the point of view of the monster, which is going to be a lot of fun. Jeff Bell has a story about luck and what it means to have good luck or bad luck. David Amann is doing a story about troubled teenagers and a secret they all share in this one town. That’s our starting line-up.

X-Files Magazine: Will the upcoming season include as much comedy as we saw in Season Six?

Spotnitz: It’s kind of odd because you don’t really know if you’re going to go into a run of comedic episodes or not until you do it. It wasn’t that premeditated. Last year, we just felt like it because we’d done the movie and it was a relief to all of us to have more junny ones. I don’t expect there’ll be as many comedic ones this year.

X-Files Magazine: Is Chris Carter planning another blockbuster episode along the lines of “Triangle” or “Post-Modern Prometheus”?

Spotnitz: I would be amazed if he has the time to direct anything this year. I think we will try to make as many of these episodes as we can this year spectacular and precedent-breaking, but between “Harsh Realm” and “The X-Files” I expect we’ll be too busy writing to have him get behind the camera.

X-Files Magazine: You mentioned last year that Mulder and Scully are moving toward a new plateau in their relationship. What changes are in store this year?

Spotnitz: Big changes! In the movie, they didn’t kiss but clearly the desire was there. Then we really, I thought, teased the audience in episodes like “Triangle” and “The Rain King.” I think you will see that attraction addressed again more squarely at some point during the yearnd then certainly in the finale I would expect a direct conclusion to seven years of unrequited sexual tension.

Fate Magazine: Chris Carter speaks in a virtual tongue

Oct-??-1999
Fate Magazine
Chris Carter speaks in a virtual tongue
Rex Sorgatz

Chris Carter speaks in a virtual tongue. His language is an amalgam of almosts and maybes, what ifs and if…thens. His freshest foray into the televisionary, Harsh Realm, (premiering October 8 on FOX), is his most explicitly virtual creation — a world of games, thought experiments, and hypotheticals.

“Harsh Realm suggests a possible future scenario, but it is the worst-case scenario,” Carter explains from Los Angeles before leaving for Vancouver, British Columbia, to begin production on the new series. “It is about a man realizing that the world we live in can’t be made safe anymore.”

Adapted from James D. Hudnall’s six-issue 1991 comic book series, Harsh Realm opens with war hero Lt. Thomas Hobbes (Scott Bairstow) returning from Sarajevo. Just as he becomes reacquainted with his idyllic suburban home — resplendent with glimmering Chevy truck and comely fiancee — the military requests one final mission of him. A top secret virtual program, “Harsh Realm,” which was used to simulate various training scenarios, has been hijacked by the ominous Omar Santiago (Terry O’Quinn). Hobbes’ mission is to enter the dystopian program — a simulated pixel-world exactly like our own, yet not — and kill Santiago. “It’s just a game,” says a familiar disembodied voice (Gillian Anderson) as he enters the program.

Just a Game

Among the epithets that often aggregate around Chris Carter — producer, director, author, conspiracist, philosopher — one frequently gets overlooked: journalist. From 1979 to 1982, Carter was an editor at Surfing magazine. In addition to helping cultivate an appreciation of fringe culture, this position nurtured his trademark reading of media events. After six seasons of The X-Files and three of Millennium, Carter, who once called Watergate “the Big Bang of my moral universe,” has perfected his eye for capturing our national tragedies (in The X-Files, events like the Oklahoma City bombing and the Waco stand-off; in Harsh Realm, televised war). In lesser hands this could end up tabloidish and exploitative, but Carter grapples with the subject like a scientist fascinated in his area of study.

“Using a current event has sharp power because I think we have less faith in our media outlets to give us the real story,” he says in an elongated and calculated SoCal drawl. “It gives writers of fiction a greater opportunity to play with possible realities.”

Although he tends to eschew the title of “philosopher,” probably because it sounds too didactic, Carter obviously has one foot in the philosopher’s grave: the hero of Harsh Realm does, after all, bear the name of the great seventeenth-century master of the reality complex.

In an essay on Carter, William Gibson once wrote, “This is the Age of Deregulation, and in The X-Files, as in our daily lives, the very nature of reality is deregulated.” Reality-fixated Hobbes — a Spielbergian good ol’ boy trapped in a game — is the next step in deregulation. Whereas “The truth is out there” was the motto of The X-Files, “It’s just a game” becomes the mantra of Harsh Realm — “an ironic mantra, of course,” Carter is quick to add, “just as ‘The truth is out there’ is ironic.”

With the success of films like The Matrix and eXistenZ, virtual reality is currently a vogue device. Carter admits the comparisons make him squeamish, but says he didn’t see The Matrix until Harsh Realm was done. “I thought, ‘Wow, I hope people don’t compare our couple-million-dollar pilot to that $75 million movie.’ The virtual reality ideas command both, and I was a little worried about people making comparisons. But they certainly didn’t invent the messiah figure that is an element of so many stories.” In Harsh Realm, Hobbes becomes the potential savior for the people trapped in the virtual world. “The messiah embodies our hope for salvation,” suggests Carter. “It’s an archetypal story that works well in a virtual world because it has its own philosophy, or lack thereof. Harsh Realm is a godless world with no morality, codes, or standards. As humans, we have a need to hold onto something, and that’s what the character of the savior does for us.”

Heart of Darkness

Game is war is life is television — that’s the vigilante world of Harsh Realm. Although it is a virtual world, it is also quite “real”: an imposed pseudo-utopia with militarized gated communities and characters who rotely walk through life playing their parts. In Carter’s hands, virtual reality becomes a versatile tool that, depending on the context, is used to invoke various concepts: war, television, Hollywood, video games, film, art, life, or Canada.

Canada? “I feel a strong affinity to Canada because it feels like the world I grew up in,” he says, explaining his penchant for filming in Vancouver. “There’s a civility, a sensibility, and an interpersonal respect that I see missing in my world. Canada harkens back to another time. Canada is virtual in a sense, but in the best sense.”

As December 31, 1999, closes in, many people will be retreating to non-harsh realms. Where will the creator of Millennium be at the turning of the millennium?

“It is my wedding anniversary, so I know to some extent what I’ll be doing: I’ll be with my wife, probably in the safety of our own home. We won’t be in the air, and we won’t be in an urban area, so I feel safe and satisfied that we are not going to succumb or fall victim to what I know is going to be a completely unexpected January 1.”

With Chris Carter guiding us there, the millennium arrives a little easier.